Indian chess body AICF exploring possibilities of hosting world title match between Gukesh and China's Ding

by IANS |

Chennai, April 23 (IANS) The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is assessing the possibility of hosting the World Chess Championship in India with the 17-year-old chess Grandmaster (GM) D. Gukesh qualifying to challenge world champion China's GM Ding Liren, its chief said on Tuesday,

AICF President Nitin Narang also said the federation will provide a handsome financial reward to Gukesh in recognition of his recent success.

Gukesh created history on Monday by becoming the youngest player to win the FIDE Candidates tournament in Canada's Toronto, scoring nine points in 14 rounds, half a point ahead of several other players, and qualifying as the challenger for the world chess title,

"We are assessing the situation. There will be more clarity on the subject in a couple of days. Once we understand what is needed to host the event, then we will decide," Narang told IANS.

According to him, sponsors and government support are needed to host the world title event.

While Narang declined to confirm it, it is learnt that some corporate groups have been sounded out for sponsoring the title match if India successfully bids for the prestigious event.

This time around, the world title competition has better chances of coming back to the birthplace of chess or 'chaturangam' if one goes by the views of chess masters.

"I believe Gukesh will be the slight favourite against Ding Liren. The world champion is a very good player. However, he has not been very active and his form is not at its peak," former women’s world champion (1996-99), Grandmaster Susan Polgar told IANS when queried about the Indian's chances of becoming a world champion.

Narang also said that what Gukesh has achieved will "turn around the direction of Indian chess".

India has the experience of successfully holding the World Chess Championship and also the Chess Olympiad. The world title match between the then Champion India’s GM V.Anand and the Challenger Magnus Carlsen was held in Chennai. At that time, Anand lost the title to Carlsen.

In 2022, India successfully hosted the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai in which about 1,737 players from 186 countries participated.

Interestingly, the Chennai Chess Olympiad - a team event - could also be described as the "Gukesh Olympiad" as he won seven consecutive games, an Olympiad record of sorts.

Gukesh also won the individual gold medal playing on the top board and his team – India-1 won the Olympiad bronze medal.

The International Chess Federation or FIDE plans to hold the world chess championship sometime this year. However, the dates and the venue are yet to be decided.

As per FIDE, the World Championship Match consists of 14 games and the player who scores 7.5 points or more wins the Match, and no further games are played. If the score after 14 games is equal, the winner is decided on a tiebreak.

While the Candidates Tournament for Open and Women’s were held together for the first time, it is not known whether FIDE would like to have both title matches simultaneously.

While the AICF chief declined to confirm the amount of the financial reward to Gukesh for his Candidates' success, AICF Interim Secretary Ajeet Kumar Verma had told IANS in January that Indian players winning the Candidates 2024 tournament will be supported to the extent of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for their preparation for the world title, subject to the approval of the General Body.”

The AICF had provided Rs 2 crore financial assistance for the five Indian players – three in the open category and two in the women’s category - who had competed in the recent Candidates Tournament. With only Gukesh succeeding in the Candidates, will AICF provide Rs.1 crore to him or even more is the question that remains to be answered.

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